Losing Bite

Get ready.

I may puncture a few favored thoughts tonight. I don’t know.

Hopefully, it will not be construed as malicious! 😳

I don’t believe so. I think most of you are getting to know my heart.🙂

So…I have been waxing nostalgic for the contemporary Christian music I grew up with a lot lately.

I am nudging into 42 next month, so the era is not too difficult to guess, I imagine. 🙂

80’s and 90’s seem pretty far away here in 2020.

And, at the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, Christian music does, too!

In a way that is sadly feeling like the same watered down cup so many churches are serving up these days.

Oh, there are Jesusy lyrics sung, all right.

But, I turn on the radio and find that seldom is today’s Christian fare beyond a romantical, vague, husky-voiced haze, difficult to tell one song from the next. 🙁

Almost…formulaic. As if the subject is still there, but the substance has been hollowed out.

Ouch. Maybe that’s a bit harsh….😬

Now, I said I would try not to be a crotchedy old lady here, so I will try to stand by that!

I am swimming into my middle years, but I still have a mindset which knows God has gifted us beyond the old standards, so it isn’t your typical no-new-fangled granny grumble. 😏

So, maybe it’d help to give you a proper picture of my background…

I started out in the likes of doing imaginary concerts to Petra records, as well as some of my daddy’s Don Fransisco, Harvest, and BJ Thomas as a preteen. 🙂

I graduated later to wearing out tapes of Michael W. Smith, 4Him, and, my personal favorite, Rich Mullins.

DC Talk, the earlier Newsboys, Jars of Clay, and Audio Adrenaline were swiftly added to the mix, along with a few others I would discover through my annual collecting of the latest W.O.W. compilation CD.

Stuff that each had its own signature flavor, singers with their own personal tweak, a variety of instruments with voices of their own, too.

But, best of all, lyrics that did more than make me feel like I was wrapped in impossibly fluffy pajamas.

Not that fluffy pajamas are necessarily always wrong.

We all need to feel comforted by His love.

But, our comfort can’t and shouldn’t be our singular focus.

Nor all we sing about!

No…rather, what I miss in today’s music compared to these older songs was that the latter made me think.

They sandpapered me with grit and honesty and challenge…

They bit into me, in a way I didn’t even fully realize back then.

The necessary bite of conviction.

Oh, I won’t pretend every song merited that rather lofty description.

There were lots of lightweights in there, just as every era has.

Believe me, I experienced that, too, as I ricocheted like a pinball between the self-serving ways of Charismania and a more traditional style of church.

But, in contrast, there didn’t seem to be the universal striving for the constant “feel good” that has permeated our culture at large today.

Now, that said, I won’t knock every song or every new artist.

That would be the height of close-minded generalization.

I know there are yet pockets where sincerity of heart and creativity of mind exist.

For instance, I see and hear such on many a Wednesday night when we huddle around a couple of guitars and a d’jembe drum to lift up praise to the Lord with our youth. 🙂

I guess I am just saying we shouldn’t neglect the individuality He’s graced us with, especially not to appease the masses or stroke our fragile egos.

Nor should we shrink from the often necessary bite of conviction.

I believe that is integral to our call.

It should, therefore, be reflected in every aspect of living-music included….

Well, I hope that wasn’t too grumpy for you. I don’t like to feel as if I am purposely tromping on toes, even when God gives me the hard word to give. 🙂 Blessings and prayers to you, dear friends! Keep singing a new song to Him, but make sure it’s always a song of truth! 😉

Iron Sharpens Iron at the Family Table

Coming back following holidays left my mind tired yet full. This thought rose above others tonight…

Sometimes, it’s difficult to be with family after a long absence.

Well, duh, Captain Obvious. 🙄

It’s also difficult to leave them when time draws nigh.

Also pretty much a well duh statement. 😏

There are the numerous delights and countless challenges alike to our spirits in coming together after extended months apart.

You’re no longer a child and your tendency is to attempt earnestly to prove it, all to varying degrees of success.

For, there is also the something of being in their midst that pulls you back to that place of littleness compared to the elders in your life.

In my particular case, there’s a lot of shadows to that former existence, some areas stepped into tentatively, others not at all.

Apprehension can seize my soul if I don’t take care to surrender it to His hand.

Now, forgiveness has been flowing in abundance among us for decades now, and, yet, must still rise up to be met again in entering into one another’s presence.

Past is not swept under any rugs, by any means, but, in looking back, love softens the edges of the pain.

Hearts don’t necessarily forget all the twinges, but they do connect afresh through the knowledge Christ makes all things new.

Including each other.

And, then, we get to share that newness of being. What a wonder that is!

Thoughts fly back and forth across the table. Struggles are examined in a different light, growth is noted, wisdom imparted.

Each moment, both the tender and the hard, threads itself to the ever-changing tapestry of our existence, tethering us tighter together.

Iron sharpening iron sounds sort of scary at first glance, but, how it shows itself in our lives can be incredible.

Home can be a great place to see this at work, for you get to surprise each other with what God’s given us to bring to the table.

You get to witness the learning you each have done and become that safe place to reach across said table with it.

It may not exactly feel like light family fun at times, yet these times the Lord affords us to deepen our walks, both with Him and with one another, are vital.

Hence, the observation at the beginning.

Difficult to be there, difficult to leave…

But, this truth I hold fast to to keep me going:

God grants us fond memories to soothe the bittersweet and carry us through to the next day we meet.

In Him, we are never truly apart.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a blessed one, dear friends. May we ever seek those iron sharpening situations, whether by family, by friends, or both.

Seasoned

Time.

It’s in His hands. So, why can it feel like such a cruel taskmaster?

It moves so swiftly some days, aging us all the more swiftly in the process.

Like my beloved George Bailey, I have always felt, in many respects, I was born older.

Couldn’t bypass a photo of his earnest prayer here. Courtesy of cinemaarchives.com

Not necessarily just due to my attraction to things of a bygone era, though being the only twelve-year-old I knew with an antique display worthy of the PBS roadshow was somewhat a clue. 🙂

Admittedly, that is a piece, but, really, it goes deeper than that.

Even beyond the childhood abuse that can simultaneously stunt growth and drag one to premature adulthood, though I’d be remiss to not acknowledge that role as well.

I can’t say I never had innocence or naivete of any sort, because it was there, in some manners and forms.

My older brother, for example, could persuade me of a lot of things that had not a shred of truth in them. 😉

But, inexplicably, almost paradoxically, the eyes of one who can see through the world to the unseemly underside were also often there.

And, needless to say, looking at the world through such eyes can be a weighty prospect at best, whatever your age.

It’s honestly hard to remember a time I didn’t feel a certain amount of heaviness in my soul.

And, coupled with it the unfortunate tendency to look for some way to safely unburden it, or, as bashfulness rose up more pronounced the more rejected I felt, to at least long to.

I became quite the quiet, grave little soul as a result, only unwinding some of which had me so tightly wound around said brother, who mostly understood the unusually oldish creature in his younger sister, though even he could become baffled and annoyed at times! 🙂

This heaviness stayed with me over the years, by and large, like a shroud, lighter sides of me only breaking through at rare moments or upon being on stage. ( Ah, for I wasn’t me then! )

Such an asset in socal gatherings, let me tell you! 🙄

For a long time, I walked about with this odd duck label.

So serious. 😐

The wallflower. 😔

The overthinker. 🤔

Almost always feeling the need to apologize for it.

For, surely, it must be a shortcoming.

I think of Amy March describing- in hushed tones- her sister, Beth, in “Little Women”:

She has an infirmity. She’s shy.

It was much, much later I pinpointed my autistic tendencies via my children’s diagnoses. This did help shed quite a new light on what I had coped with all those years.

Undeniably helpful.

But, whereas it is in fact integral to the human makeup He created me with, it’s not the be-all end-all of me, either.

It’s why, where I appreciate deeply recognition of special needs, I no longer feel it need always be what I personally talk about. But, I have tread this road before, so, let me stop circuiting…😏

All this to say, all those pieces, all that weight on my shoulders, the harshness of life and the rapid beating of time…all so acutely evident in my sight, needn’t become an unhappy, isolating thing.

I don’t have to apologetically stammer how I’m older than my years, subject myself to a burning silence, or consider myself a lonely curmudgeon, an embarrassing oddity of nature for all time.

For, what the world calls odd, He often calls seasoned.

Matt. 5:13 says:

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

Seasoning is a necessary part of the Christian life. Without the salt to preserve our faith, this world can quickly contaminate it.

To be seasoned, to me, means being able to recognize the true from the false.

Even when it’s uncomfortable or unpopular.

For, when we can taste and see that the Lord is good, it ruins us for all other flavors.

And that’s a good thing! ☺

As is the burden, if you will, of helping others recognize this fact.

It has been such an irony to me, honestly, that God directed me to places seemingly contrary to my rather old-fashioned ways, both in previous years and now.

Teaching toddlers and ministering to youth would seem to call for a child-like energy and some level of, shall we say, “coolness”?

Where I did and do allow myself some youthful zest where able, no one could ever accuse me of “coolness”. 😏

Yet, I feel God tell me not to assume what they have need of.

For, who am I to say they don’t need the sort of seasoning He has uniquely called me to help provide?

In seasoning should also come a growing confidence in His goodness and wisdom, after all.

And, as I referred to last time we spoke here, beautiful bridges can be built between generations.

So…if you feel older than your years…

Feel good about it. To be seasoned is not a bad thing.

And if you feel younger, or, maybe even just your age, that’s okay, too.

Your seasoning can still be there.

And when we surrender to its aging us, we can see its not actually done cruelly, though it might seem to be, but, rather, beautifully in its time.

And guess Who has it all in hand?😉

Blessings and prayers, friends. May we each embrace who we are in Him and season the earth with His truth.